May 22, 2018

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today welcomed the introduction of the Do No Harm Act in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

The Do No Harm Act is designed to ensure that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) continues to provide important protections for religious exercise while clarifying that RFRA may not be used to discriminate or harm others. The legislation was introduced in the House last year by U.S. Reps. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) and Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) and now has over 100 House co-sponsors.

“The Do No Harm Act will ensure that we honor two core American values: religious freedom and the promise of equal protection under the law,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United.

“The Trump-Pence Administration has promoted policies that misuse RFRA and allow religion to be used as justification to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, women, religious minorities and others,” Laser said. “The Do No Harm Act would ensure that our laws remain a shield to protect religious freedom and not a sword to harm others.

“America is at its best when we all are free to believe, or not, as we see fit and to practice our personal faith without hurting others,” Laser continued.

Congress enacted the federal RFRA in 1993 with the goal of protecting religious freedom, especially for religious minorities. At the time, a broad coalition of progressive and conservative groups (including Americans United) supported the law. But since then, the federal RFRA has become a vehicle for those who want to use religion to undermine protections for civil rights and access to health care.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.